Today: Wednesday, November 13, 2019
 
 

The faith of a 50-something    (6/22/2008 )

Faith at 50; faith at 40; faith at 30… What's the difference?

I finally ‘submitted' to God my Father when I was 21 years old, after several years of cynical questioning and denunciation of all religion. I didn't want to be boxed, labelled, categorised or presented with a script… but I did want to find meaning and purpose, and to make sense of my hitherto turbulent childhood and adolescence and—most of all—to experience ‘unconditional love'.

Until I turned to God, the phrase ‘unconditional love' was a psychological phrase or a book title. I wanted to know what it really meant, and how it could translate into, and transform, my relatively aimless and somewhat self-absorbed lifestyle.

That was then… faith at 21. The call from Jesus to follow him was to live out his teachings. These teachings are not dogmatic rules: they are truths revealed by his very nature, his Spirit. They challenged and inspired me; they gave me meaning, life and purpose. This was, for me, freedom. “If the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John [NT] chapter 8, verse 36). My life was truly transformed.

So where has it all brought me now, in my early fifties? Well, there is no arrival: the journey continues. Faith is strengthened by reflecting. As I look back, I see how God's promises have shaped my life and sustained me. These are just some of the snapshots:

•  In my childhood, I was ignored, neglected and deprived of unconditional love. But now I can know God's promise: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart ” (Jeremiah [OT] chapter 1, verse 5) and “ See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands ” (Isaiah [OT] chapter 49, verse 16).

•  In my early adulthood, seeking a career: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah [OT] chapter 29, verse 11.)

•  In my marriage to my husband, a professed unbeliever—and yet whose Christ-like-ness challenges the most ardent of Christians.

•  In my parenting, when my second child was born without a hip socket, and the promise in Ezekiel [OT], chapter 37, verses 5-6: “ I will make breath enter you and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you… Then you will know that I am Lord, resulted in a healing which amazed even the hospital consultant.

And now, at 50, as I continue to seek God's purpose, the picture continues to unfold. A picture not unlike Nicola David's ‘patchwork quilt'. As a quilter, I can see how ‘pieces and colours' have been added to my life in the form of God's promises. These promises have redeemed and made sense of the pain, doubts, disappointments and losses.

The promises are behind me, as reminders of God's faithfulness, and ahead of me as an encouragement to continue the journey.



Pray: Lord, you understand how we resist your love, afraid we might be 'boxed, labelled, categorised or presented with a script'. Please stay close as we wrestle with these issues. Amen.

Think about: Sharon talks about her non-Christian husband's 'Christ-like-ness'. What do you think she means? What sort of qualities do you think are Christ-like?

Challenge: It was only after 'submitting' herself to God - despite her initial resistance - that Sharon was able to experience what she most craved: unconditional love. Your challenge today may be this: can you submit yourself wholly to God? And if so, do you think you would lose your sense of identity or, perhaps, find it - as a child of God?

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